KEEP DRILLING

Banning natural gas production simply would be disastrous for the economy, according to business leaders and those with ties to the industry.

Late in 2016, a number of officials cited reasons as to why drilling should continue.

Their comments during a teleconference with the media come on the heels of a call by various organizations to ban drilling.

Dave Spiegelmyer, Marcellus Shale Coalition president, said the natural gas industry has helped transform Pennsylvania’s manufacturing base that long had been in decline.

“Thanks to shale gas, Pennsylvania has emerged as an energy power house,” he said.

Natural gas, he said, played a big role in helping the nation get out of the recession.

Spiegelmyer noted how manufacturers of plastics and chemical plants rely on the resource.

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President Gene Barr called natural gas production “revolutionary” for the state.

“Keeping this (gas) in the ground would be detrimental to this commonwealth,” he said.

Barr noted the future benefits from natural gas, including an petrochemical plant in Beaver County that will convert ethylene from oil and gas for use in plastics manufacturing.

Constructing the ethane cracker facility will employ 6,000 workers, giving way to 600 permanent operational positions when it opens.

Barr noted the benefits natural gas has meant to the environment in the way of reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society has called for a moratorium on new natural gas extraction “using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania” and urged the to state to fund an independent health registry and commission research studies on the health effects of drilling.

The organization, in a resolution to the state, noted that chemicals for drilling and radioactive isotopes of flowback fluid are carcinogens and make their way into aquifers and drinking water. In addition, the group claims that about 9 percent of gas wells leak methane directly into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.

Among other organizations in the state calling for a moratorium on drilling are Pennsylvanians Against Drilling, PennEnvironment, Green Party of Pennsylvania and Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens Group.

Chris Guith, senior vice president of policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s

Institute for 21st Century Energy, said banning drilling would more than triple natural gas prices.

In Ohio alone, it is estimated that some 400,000 jobs would be lost under a drilling moratorium by 2022.

“The reality is that the energy revolution has spread throughout the country. This country is becoming more and more dependent on it,” he said.

Barr said natural gas is a resource that needs to be utilized even better.

He said building pipelines to transport natural gas to markets remains a challenge with different groups opposing their construction.

With the unsuccessful bid to prevent drilling, many people opposed to the industry have turned to trying to stop the pipelines, he noted.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that we have enjoyed low energy prices thanks to natural gas,” said Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “Shale development gives families new hope in good jobs.”

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